The Chinese herb He Shou Wu is is cloaked in myth and mystery. I first heard about Polygonum multiflorum or Fo-Ti, when I consulted with my herbalist about my graying hair. Being in my early 30s, I was concerned that my hair discoloration was due to some sort of nutrient deficiency.
My herbalist, a woman who, in her mid-60s has long, beautiful, chestnut brown hair, told me that He Shou Wu was a miracle-herb that could stop untimely hair discoloration. I was intrigued, but also a little confounded.
I turned to a trusted acupuncturist for more info. She told me about Chinese legend of Neng Si, a man with a weak constitution who, after taking a large dose of He Shou Wu for several years, experienced a radical shift towards vitality, including his full head of gray hair turning back to black. Thus, the herb was named “He Shou Wu” — which literally translates to “Old Black Haired.”
6 Benefits of He Shou Wu
Before I started adding He Shou Wu to my regimen, I decided to dig in and really do some investigative research on its potential health benefits. Amazingly, there are quite a few scientific studies that support some of the mythical claims of this herb. I discovered some vital information behind the legends of youthful, full-color hair – and a ton of other health benefits that make He Shou Wu a vital herb to add to your regiment.
Several scientific studies confirm the mythical claim that He Shou Wu stimulates the body to produce longevity-promoting substances. The most powerful substance it has been shown to stimulate is superoxide dismutase, the most potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger found in the human body. Numerous studies found a correlation between superoxide dismutase and an extended lifespan. This antioxidant also inhibits the MAO-B enzymes, a family of enzymes which binds to the outer membrane of mitochondria. This process combats oxidative stress and has been shown to result in powerful health benefits and life-extension.
2. Blood Tonifier
Tonification is a Traditional Chinese Medicine term which refers to the strengthening of a certain part or element of the body. He Shou Wu has been demonstrated to help strengthen the membranes of red blood cells and also promote their growth. HoneyColony’s Equilibrium includes He Shou Wu in their “Energy Formula” due to its positive effect on blood circulation. There is a strong correlation between proper circulation and healthy energy levels.
3. Hair Revitalizer
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hair is the reflection of the state of a person’s blood, liver and kidney. Which is why many people believe He Shou Wu, with its power to increase blood circulation and stimulation of red blood cells, can help turn gray hair back to its original color.
Studies have found He Shou Wu to contain Radix Polygoni Multiflori (RPM). Prepared RPM exerts hypolipidemic effects. Hypolipidemic agents can lower high levels of fats (lipids), such as cholesterol, in the blood, improving the essence of the blood and nourishing the liver and kidneys. They have also been shown to have revitalizing abilities, such as blackening the hair and beard and strengthening the muscles and bones. RPM exerts its hypolipidemic effects primarily by targeting the gastrointestinal tract, thus inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol.
However, this doesn’t mean everyone with greying hair can find a miracle in He Shou Wu. According to acupuncturist and naturopath, Talia Mansdorf:
When there is a blood deficiency, hair can turn gray because it’s malnourished. However, in Chinese Medicine, you can have three people with the same symptoms, but very different issues. There can be several issues at the root of hair turning gray. But if your graying hair doesn’t stem from blood deficiency, He Shou Wu will not be of any help. You’ll need a full diagnosis to determine what’s the real issue at state.
4. Protection From Disease
An impressive amount of pharmacological studies show strong evidence for He Shou Wu’s treatment of various medical conditions and diseases such as liver injury, cancer, diabetes, alopecia, atherosclerosis, and even neurodegenerative diseases.
This is due, in part, to He Shou Wu’s anti-inflammatory properties; it has been shown to inhibit the expression of some of the most prominent pro-inflammatory signaling factors in the body.
Another benefit of He Shou Wu’s stimulation of superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity is this free radical scavenger kills harmful oxygen molecules in cells which may have caused damage to tissues. By taking He Shou Wu every day, you are increasing your antioxidant levels and protecting yourself from disease.
5. Improved Sex Drive
Another element of this herb’s mythical discovery was the sudden rise in virality Neng Si experienced upon taking the herb. A 2014 study conducted on rats showed that He Shou Wu can increase testosterone secretion and sperm function.
Low sperm count is becoming an increasingly bigger issue in the male population. Scientists aren’t quite sure why this is, but there is a lot of evidence that “ the estrogen hypothesis”, which traces this issue to the 5,000 toxic chemicals we’re exposed to, that are all quite similar to the female sex hormone estrogen, is the culprit. Whatever the root of sperm count issues may be, He Shou Wu can be the solution.
A recent 2016 study found that He Shou Wu has anti-aging effects on the testicular cells, by means of inhibiting the occurrence of apoptosis in spermatogenic cells, thus improving the spermatogenic function of the testicular cells. It seems the herb regulates the expression of key genes in the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway.
Also, through improved blood circulation, erogenous zones experience a heightened sensitivity to sexual stimulation. Therefore, He Shou Wu can serve as an aphrodisiac.
6. Lowered Stress Levels
The herb is considered to be an “adaptogen”, which is an herb that works with your body to create balance and harmony, compared to “mimetic” herbs which replace or enhance a certain function.
According to Mansdorf, “He Shou Wu is a yin herb, which means it correlates to and encourages feminine/receptive energy. Many people feel calmer and more balanced both in mind and body with this herb.”
Traditional Chinese Medicine also relates how He Shou Wu can stimulate our intuitive abilities, inspiring spiritual awareness, creativity, and heightened intuitive guidance.
Formulated With Traditional Chinese Medicine, Raw Honey, And Probiotics. Click Here To Enjoy Equilibrium, The Peak Of Superfoods!
How To Take He Shou Wu
He Shou Wu/ Fo-Ti can be found in capsule form or in our Equilibrium formula! Formulator, Reed notes that for He Shou Wu to have an effect, “the roots must be cooked in black bean soup to make it work properly. This preparation is critical. Not all He Shou Wu on the market has been prepared properly”. Unfortunately, not all herbal distributors are knowledgeable about these intricacies — and some could care less, anyways.
Keep this in mind when you are shopping for a He Shou Wu supplement. Another way to make sure you are getting the most from your He Shou Wu is to take it with raw honey as it “speeds up the delivery of the active substances to the body, plus it helps with the absorption of the nutrients on a cellular level.”
Mansdorf warns, “He Shou Wu can have harsh effects on the digestive tract, especially for those with too much heat in their system, who are prone to diarrhea. To avoid this, make sure you’re take He Shou Wu in conjunction with probiotics.”
Luckily, Equilbrium’s Energy Formula contains a powerful dose of He Shou Wu in combination with raw honey and probiotics. Reed recommends taking the herb in the morning right when the body wakes up.
Linda Miriam Aziz-Zadeh is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about preserving the natural beauty and wonder of our bodies, this planet, and the world. She is the co-founder of Crunchy Buzz, a digital wellness marketing firm that serves the health and wellness industry.
Submit your story or essay to Buzzworthy Blogs.